Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Still Want a Dog?

This post is by one of my kids (still Sheri here, the guest blogger), along with a sweet picture she took of J & I:

"Mom, can we get a dog?"

I had asked that question for years. The answer was always no. But my wish finally came true. For about 2 weeks, that is. We're pet-sitting for our friends' Labs while they're on vacation.

I've never really noticed how dogs can have such different personalities. When we go on walks, Indy bounds down the street like a chocolate-covered torpedo. His tongue hangs out, and he seems to say, "oh boy oh boy oh boy, this is so fun! What's that? Oooh, that looks interesting. Hey, another dog. Hi, I'm Indy!" While Jack walks more slowly, practically shaking his yellow head and sighing, "little brothers..."

Of course, owning a dog (or dogs) comes with responsibilities. One of the more... unpleasant ones is picking up after them (gulp!). I held my breath and bravely began the smelly task of picking up the...uh...droppings with a rake and dust pan. (insert from Sheri here: I wish I had a picture of THAT in action, it was funny!) Mom called from the deck, "Still want a dog?"

When evening falls and it's time to settle down, the dogs sprawl out in the family room, heaving contented sighs. Jack curls up in a quiet corner of the room, while Indy plops himself down wherever one of us are sitting, as if to say, "Oh boy, can I sit here too? Thanks!" Then he makes himself comfortable resting on my feet.
I once read a story where a girl and her sister were arguing about dogs. I can't remember exactly what they said, but it went something like this:
Girl 1: "They're smelly, slobbery, and they shed everywhere!"
Girl 2: "What's not to love?"
Yes, I still want a dog. ;o)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jack & Indy Meet Tiny

Hi there, I'm Sheri, the guest blogger mentioned one blog ago. We are blessed to be friends with TAAHD and their parents (foster or otherwise!). My family has been given the privilege and responsibility of taking care of the 'two' of the Two and a Half Dogs :) We wondered what this adventure would hold for us, being that we don't have any four-legged friends ourselves (much to the dismay of my smallish peeps), so it will be fun being intentional about keeping track of the daily ins and outs of dog ownership.

Yesterday I was noticing my youngest son's interaction with Jack & Indy. He seemed to be having a very good time playing with the dogs and they weren't seeming to mind it either! I quickly took this picture, knowing I would ask him afterwards what the explanation was behind it. Knowing this boy, I knew there could be quite a lengthy story about what was going on. I was right. Meet "Tiny." He's the not-so-tiny dinosaur character from the movie 'Meet the Robinson's.' You gotta love the imagination behind this! Of course Jack and Indy have no idea what's going on. They're just wondering, "why is there a stuffed dino on my back" and "how come he keeps chasing me with this thing and asking me to go outside?" Now here is (in his exact words) the story as he related it to me: "One day Jack discovered how to get to the world's end. He didn't want to tell anybody. But one day Tiny discovered that Jack knew and HE wanted to get to world's end too. So he followed Jack so he could get to world's end. But Jack didn't want him to and Tiny knew that. So he made sure that Jack wouldn't see him when he followed him. When he's following Jack and he passes his best friend Indy, he gets to jump on his back and ride him. When Jack goes outside while he's being followed, he flees, and Tiny can't chase him until he comes back in. But when he's on Indy's back and Indy goes outside, then Tiny gets a bonus. When he walks into the entry way onto the carpet (rug at the front door), he's at world's end but he doesn't go there often. But when he does, Tiny gets to go there too."

No, I don't think Jack and Indy are bored. They are playing with kids, stuffed friends, and trying to find world's end :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

See ya real soon...

Remember the ending to the Mickey Mouse Club song? 

Now's the time to say goodbye
To all our company
Through the years we'll all be friends
Wherever we may be...
M-I-C - See ya real soon!
K-E-Y - Why? Because we like you!

Well, we have our Mouse Ears on and our bags packed.  Magic Kingdom, here we come!  We are making our not-so-annual-as-we'd-like-it pilgrimage to Disney World.  (My dad says it's my mecca)  Unfortunately, it's a long trip for the dogs.  Although Disney does have a ROCKIN' new kennel club on site ... (Good grief, flat screen tvs, really??)  ...we thought they would be more comfortable close to home.  Plus the plane ride, as interesting a story as it would surely make to blog about, would not be fun.   Jack goes berserk in hotel elevators.  I mean, melt to the floor, drooling and green around the gills, "does anyone else realize the world is ending?" berserk.  I'd hate to have him so terrified in what is essentially a five hour elevator ride. 
Our dear friend is house/big dog sitting for us.  She has also agreed to guest blog while we're away. (thanks, Sheri!)  My sweet mother and father in law have agreed to watch Lucy.  We are blessed to have two great families watching our dogs.  Thank you, thank you.

...And we will be back, because we DO like you!  It tickles me to see the blog stats and know that yes, there are readers out there besides my mom (Hi, mom!)  Stay tuned for Sheri's updates, and check out her own blog at .

Wishing you pixie dust and clean kennels...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Cold Day in Paradise

My dear Grandparents, of whom I've blogged before, celebrated their 25th Wedding Anniversary at Sunrise Park on Mt. Rainier in Washington State.  The year was 1969.  Several of their friends were celebrating 25th Anniversaries around the same time too.  The thing to do was formal white table cloths & rented banquet rooms; but grandpa doesn't do formal white table cloths.  My mom was just out of college and wanted to throw them a similar party.  Grandpa said that's fine, but he probably wouldn't come. 

Grandpa is not gruff, nor has he ever been rude to my knowledge.  He is warm and outgoing and easily befriends even the grumpiest of humanity, often affecting their day, if not their entire outlook, for the better.  But there are simply some things Grandpa won't do.  Dressing up and having the spot light on himself is probably at the top of his list.  My mom, his daughter, is the "Hostess with the Mostess".  She has his warmth and outgoing personality, with the talent for throwing the best parties.  Not hanging-around-drinking-beer-on-your-tailgate parties, but honest to goodness, everyone-here-is-family parties.  Perhaps "Gatherings" would be a better word.

I don't know exactly what went down next.  I'm sure my mom knew better than to press the subject.  My grandpa has never been one to say anything carelessly; if he said he wouldn't be at his own party, it wasn't idle conjecture.  "I'd go on a picnic" he said optimistically.  That was all mom needed to hear.  You want a picnic?  It will be the best picnic ever!  They invited all of their friends and family members and a tradition was born. 

The following year, the event reconvened at Paradise Park, Mt. Rainier and came to be know in our family as simply, "Paradise Picnic".  On any given year the attendance could fluctuate from a small gathering of 30 or so people to the nearly 100 that came to honor my grandparents' 50th anniversary.

I believe not a year was skipped until 2000, when the picnic was brought closer to home for easier accessibility.  This year, for the 41st Family Picnic, we returned to Paradise with new generations in tow.  It just happened to be the coldest trip to the mountain I could remember.  With temperatures scarcely reaching 40 deg. Fahrenheit, it was a short picnic!  

We left the big dogs with a friend, knowing they would have to be on a leash the whole time and would be antsy from the long car trip and lack of real exercise.   Lucy, however, is conveniently travel-sized.  Our only concern was her lack of insulation.  I remembered back to when we first found her; what a shaky little thing she was.   Not knowing just how cold it would be, we assumed a summer chill and headed for the pet store to look for *gasp* a jacket of some sort.  What had happened to me?  I went from being an exclusive BIG dog person to a 'foster' caretaker of a little dog to that lady who buys little outfits for her dog. 

At the pet store, we found a very cute pink hooded vest with a fur-trimmed hood.  Cute, yes.  But I couldn't bring myself to buy it.  For one thing, it was $20.  For another, it really wasn't that insulating.  It was much more functional than say, the "doggie says 'relax'" t-shirt next to it, but still - this was about warmth, not fashion(and a little about economics - $20 for a dog jacket??)  So we stopped in to my new favorite resource store, Value Village, where within five minutes I located a faded Baby Gap vest, size 3-6 mo.  It wasn't pink(why, again, did I care?) but I figured it should serve it's purpose. 

In the end, I don't know why I bothered quite so much.  She was hardly out of one person's arms before someone else would scoop her up. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

There's No Place Like Mom

Both BIG dogs have been extra needy lately.  I don't blame them.  Acquiring a new family member is a big adjustment.  I heard someone compare getting successive dogs (from the first dog's perspective) to your husband bringing home a new wife.  He eagerly shows her off, telling you both how cute she is.  He expects you to love her as much as he does and, oh, share your things with her too.  Right.  I have wondered if it's like that for dogs, or if it's more like a new sibling coming along.  I mean, it's not like the dogs are the romantic lead - they are more a part of the ensemble cast.   (maybe right now, Lucy is the "guest star"?)

I am an only child.  I hated it growing up, but I cherish it now.  I don't have to share my parents or vie for their attention.  (This also may explain certain narcissistic tendencies, but that could be a whole other blog...! Just kidding, folks; don't really look it up)  Digressing, digressing...   It's tricky at times to balance family and schedules and to make sure everyone gets the attention they need.  My kids often remind me that I don't know how hard it can be to have siblings.  They're right.  It must be hard to share parents' attention.  Even in my thirties, I still need my mom and dad.  I hope my kids know that my heart is big enough for everyone; that I don't take "sides" because I'm already in each of their corners.

Indy came over to me last night when I was on the couch.  He affectionately nuzzled his head in the crook of my elbow.  This quickly turned to burying his head under my arm.  I 'talked' to him (this sounds as dumb to write it as it probably does to read it but c'mon, we've all done it, "Whazza matter pal?"  "Who wants a treat?")  I asked him if he was feeling like he wasn't getting enough attention.  As I spoke, he lunged up for my lap.  As he awkwardly tried to turn and finally curled up where he wanted to be, I could feel every muscle in his body relax.   Ken grabbed the camera and snapped this shot...

... I think sometimes, whether canine or human, there's no place like Mom.

Friday, September 10, 2010


There once was a dog that was small and white.
She jumped up on the couch almost every night.
There, too, was a dog who was big and yellow
He was usually kind; an uncranky fellow.

One more big dog was in the mix
He was eight-five pounds (or was it eighty-six?)
His size would have many running for cover
But we know that at heart he was a just a big lover.

Three dogs in a house - well two and a half
Practically require an entire cleaning staff!
With towels for wet paws and shammys for fur
Coming in from the rain becomes a big blur.

These dogs are a family, a part of a pack.
It's onward and upward!  There's no turning back.
Although this was never a part of our plan,
It's much fun to blog about how it began.

Author's Note~
Thanks for reading my two and a half cents
It's fun to log on and see your comments.
I hope that so far you've enjoyed what you've read
I'm glad you stopped by to check out my thread.

Me and Baby Jack

Thursday, September 9, 2010

White after Labor Day

My husband, a fellow BIG dog enthusiast, was not so keen on Little Lu at first.  He is a kind and compassionate man, but knows a real dog when he sees one and Lucy did not fit that description.  Ken is also a grass enthusiast.  It has been disheartening for him to see his prized backyard destroyed by our four legged tenants.  The yard that used to flourish with carpet-like grass, shrubs, lilies, and young trees would be decimated upon the arrival of each new puppy. 

Dogs typically grow out of their puppy tendencies in about two human years, although it is debated if Labs ever really grow beyond this stage.  Regardless, Jack and Indy both mellowed out around 24 months of age.  The patches of ripped up grass, the freshly dug holes, and the chewing/laying on foliage subsided within reason.  After Jack's initial yard remodel, there really wasn't much point in rebuilding because we got Indy a year and a half later.  This last year, as Indy has crossed the 2 year mark, we have slowly begun to tackle our landscape- such as it is.

Lucy, it seems, has decided to 'help'.  She is a good puppy.  Read: good at being a puppy.  She happily digs in any pot or patch of earth we have.  When we covered all the pots with wire mesh and filled in the patches of earth with rocks, she took it upon herself to create more places to access dirt.  This makes for a very clean dog, with all the baths she has had.  It also makes for a crestfallen landscaper.  I think Ken partially laments for his dream yard, but is also becoming quite attached to Lucy and wishes the two could coexist.

With all of the exploring and excavating this little dog is doing, she is often removed from the situation.  Sure, we do occasional kennel time-outs, if only to give us time to clean up whatever she's done this time.  But mostly she is scooped up and carried around for a while.  She seems to like this almost as much as the digging.  Big-dog imitator she may be, she is still a little dog.  One that is quite comfortable as an accessory.  Even if it is after Labor Day.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Queen of the Couch

Lucy has taken to sleeping on the couch.  We taught Jack and Indy early on that the furniture was off-limits to anyone but the bi-peds.  One winter, however, we made the mistake of thinking that they would look all cute snuggled on the couch.  Then we realized that dogs drool.  A lot.  This is something that had escaped our attention on their pillows or in their kennels.  Perhaps they simply never reached the level of relaxation on either of those that they did upon the treasured couch. 

Dog drool is gross.  This should go without saying, but if you have never had the pleasure of owning both a dog and a micro-suede sofa(what were we thinking?) I can fill you in that they don't mix.  The puddles of slobber were nearly indelible.  It took several go-rounds with the steam cleaner to erase the unsightly stains.  Likewise, it took several weeks of re-training the big dogs.

Now, Lucy has had the ladylike courtesy to breathe through her nose when she sleeps(ergo, no drool).  Though not 'fair' per-se, it seems reasonable that she secures this right.  This has been going on for several weeks now.  At first, Jack and Indy would pace back and forth in front of the couch, nudging us as if to say, "Look at her!  Tell her 'NO'.  You told us 'no'.  The rule is 'no'" 

Anyone else remember that line Bender said in The Breakfast Club, "Hey, how come Andrew gets to get up?  If Andrew gets up... we'll all get up... it'll be anarchy."  If dogs could take their cue from an 80's movie, this was the scene:  Last night, Lucy hops up on the couch.  Seconds later, Jack jumps himself right up next to her(blatantly avoiding eye contact with his shocked bi-pedal steam cleaners).  We attempt to nudge him back to his pillow; he simply slides down to the other end of the couch.  Our nudge turns to a successful shove, only to have Jack turn around and jump right back up.  Almost simultaneously, Indy jumps up and starts to settle in.  This all happened too fast for me to grab my camera.  I don't think I could have taken a steady photo anyway, I was laughing so hard. 

We ended the evening by calling all the dogs outside for a quick game of laser fetch in the dark. Then we called the big dogs in to their nighttime shared kennel.  Lucy retreated to the family room, and hopped up on her throne.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lucy's First Walk

So far, so good.  Our "foster dog", Lucy, is fitting right in with the rest of the family.  She has, overall, been accepted by our Labradors, Jack and Indy.  Like many a heroine in a good story, she is preferred by Indy, yet desperately longs for Jack's unrequited approval.  Lucy and Indy play-wrestle, chase each other around the yard, and over all enjoy a good sibling relationship(yes, rivalry included)  At '32' years, Jack finds himself a little too distinguished to be mingling with the youngsters - perhaps likened to a human adult perennially expected to sit at the kids' table for Thanksgiving dinner?  This aloofness proves all the more enticing a challenge for Lucy.  She has been seen trying to steal 'kisses'.  She will wait for Jack to be looking the other way, or even asleep(!) and she'll run at him lightening speed and lick the corner of his mouth before retreating with equal velocity.  She'll do this several times until he either a) growls like he means business or b) succumbs and lets her frolic a minute more before he resorts to 'a'. 

But I started out to blog about the walk...  Our first walk around the neighborhood with all three dogs.  We turned a few heads - even overheard some neighbor kids saying, "Whoa, look at all those dogs!".  It was as if the dogs knew they were something special- a sight to be seen.  They held their heads high and walked proudly as a pack.  Jack even let Lucy walk next to him without making a fuss.  Perhaps she's proving herself to him, or perhaps the moment simply took over. 

Feeling quite successful, I turned to my husband and said, "This isn't so bad."  He observed, "If we keep her, we should get her a retractable leash like Jack and Indy's"  "Yes," I said, "and it should be pink, because pink is her color."  I think Ken said something about her color being whatever the best deal on Craigslist was...  Then we asked ourselves: five years from now, will we still be using the phrase, "If we decide to keep her"?

The 'Pack' Walk
Post-walk Cool Down

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Legacy Left

There is more to our family than dogs.  Yes, really.  I am proud to say that my grandparents just celebrated their 66th Wedding Anniversary.  They are the epitome of unconditional love; a relationship filled with mutual respect and admiration.  Their property is as nourishing and strong as they themselves. While Grandma and Grandpa cultivated in all of us cousins(and our parents before us) a sense of loyalty & kindness... taught us how it's always better to give than to receive and the reward of hard work done well... the Ranch itself ingrained a certain sense of freedom and possibilities. 

It was in their fruit orchards that I learned a little dirt under the nails was sometimes a good thing.  It was in a clearing between their orchards that I played my first game of baseball with my cousins.  My job was to be the ghost-runner - it was either that or go waaaay long!  It was in their orchards that I could find serenity and a stillness that didn't exist in my everyday world.  In their orchards, nature flourished and conversations with the Creator flowed with ease.

It was in their orchards that I enjoyed the abundance of fresh fruits, and learned the value of sharing with others.  My grandparents always sent us home with enough fruit to share with friends and neighbors.  Once, when I was in preschool, my grandpa thought to send an entire cherry branch to school with me!  He thought that some kids 'in the city' may have never had the pleasure of picking fresh fruit off a tree before.  The reaction of my fellow preschoolers was priceless.  It was as if the spirit of the Ranch and all that it stood for was embodied in the giving.

It was at Grandma and Grandpa's that we found Lucy(it's up for debate who found whom).  Their home has been, over the years, a rescue station to animals in need.  They have shown us by example how to care for all kinds creatures(including a magpie named Maxie!).  I hope that my grandparents would be proud of the legacy they have created.